The Case for a Free Province of the Church of England

Over recent weeks, the Forward in Faith Council members charged with the task of consulting with the membership on the document “The Case for a Free Province of the Church of England” have collectively travelled over 8,000 miles and, between them, met well over 1,000 grassroots Forward in Faith members. Five simple yet dignified masses celebrated by the Bishop of Fulham, one stupendous sermon preached five times by Fr Sam Philpott, five happy and enjoyable picnic lunches and five thoughtful and inspiring consultations: it has been a long, hard trek, but all involved will testify to how worthwhile it has been – an exercise in democracy if ever there was one!

Our thanks – and those of all who attended – to our hosts around the country: to Fr John Herv‚? at S.Agatha’s, Sparkbrook, to Frs Tony Davies and Roger Parker at S.Peter’s, Swinton, to Fr Keith Newton at Holy Nativity, Knowle, to Fr Donald Minchew at S.Michael’s, Croydon and to Fr Lawrence Featham at SS.John & Barnabas, Belle Isle – to say nothing of all their servers, organists, sidespeople and, last but by no means least, the indefatigable providers of tea and coffee, without all of whom nothing of what we have achieved would have been possible.

For the benefit of those who were unable to get to one of the consultations, it is intended to publish in a future issue of New Directions the text of Fr Geoffrey Kirk’s keynote address given at each of the meetings: we very much hope that all who read it and have refections on it which they wish to share with the Council will take the opportunity of writing in with their comments. During the summer, the Council will be considering all the submissions made both verbally and in writing, before presenting a final draft of the document to the 1999 National Assembly for adoption (DV) as the democratically settled policy of Forward in Faith.

National Assembly

The Sixth Forward in Faith National Assembly will take place this year on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th October at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, London SW1. Details will shortly be despatched to Registered Parishes and to Chairmen of Forward in Faith Diocesan Branches but in the meantime they should already be taking steps to identify their delegates.

The more eagle-eyed of our priest readers in particular will have noticed that the Assembly follows immediately upon the Sacred Synod called for all priests of our integrity by the Provincial Episcopal Visitors and the Bishop of Fulham on 27th, 28th and 29th October at the same venue. Priests attending the Synod who are not delegates to the National Assembly are very warmly invited to stay on in order to attend all or part of the Assembly as Observers and, in particular, to join us at Christ the King, Gordon Square on the Saturday morning for the National Assembly Eucharist. And of course it goes without saying that all lay members of Forward in Faith who would like to be with us as Observers at any stage are also invited – and just as warmly!

344 Days

The Music at the great CHRIST OUR FUTURE celebration next year is under the direction of Fr Ronald Corp, Non Stipendiary Curate of S.Mary’s, Kilburn and Musical Director of the New London Orchestra. He is due to be ordained to the priesthood on Sunday 4th July and here reflects on the task with which we have charged him:

“CHRIST OUR FUTURE is an inspiring ‘motto’ for the millennium, and a brilliant ‘title’ for the millennium mass being organised by Forward in Faith for Pentecost 2000. I was asked to be involved right from the beginning, and it seems that we have had many, many meetings – but it has to be said that there was plenty to discuss, and great deal to get right. Each meeting saw another piece of the very complicated jigsaw puzzle coming into place, and you can imagine that an event involving a congregation of ten thousand lay people and clergy is quite something to stage manage.

We are recruiting singers from around the country and hope to muster a choir of at least five hundred, and there will also be a children’s choir of one hundred who will sing an anthem specially written for the occasion. The accompaniment for the setting of the mass and the anthems will be provided by the New London Orchestra of which I am musical director, and we should be offering a rousing march as the clergy process in. I have mentioned the anthem for children’s voices, which I am writing, but I should also disclose that it was decided that I should also write the setting of the mass too; that way we can have a mass setting – to be called ‘Christ Our Future’ – which is specifically ours, and will receive its first performance on this grand occasion. It also means that I can orchestrate it for the instruments available and can provide extra musical sections as we require them. The mass will be published later this year and will be available for choirs to rehearse, and of course we all hope that it will be taken up by churches around the country and used in regular worship. The mass is in an adaptable form and quite suitable for Responsorial singing, or for choir alone.

You can imagine that when we sat down to organise music for this large event, we let ourselves get carried away suggesting our favourite hymns and anthems. I think we then managed to curb our own enthusiasms sufficiently to ensure a balance between the popular and the suitable (!) – and of course there is plenty of opportunity in such an event for a lot of music. The music for the procession alone needs to extend to nearly twenty minutes! With the march I have already mentioned as well as Parry’s splendid coronation anthem ‘I was glad’ – not to mention a hymn or two, for the communion we have chosen music by Holst, Mozart, Palestrina, Ireland and Bainton. Something for everyone here I think! And you will not be surprised to know that we are hoping to find a suitably rousing finale piece for the recession which will combine organ with orchestra.”

We still need lots of singers for CHRIST OUR FUTURE – has your Church Choir registered yet? Please ‘phone Stephen Parkinson at Faith House on 0171 976 0727 for more details.

Credit Card bookings for Priests who wish to concelebrate, please, to Forward in Faith on 0171 976 0727; for lay people (and priests who do not wish to concelebrate) to the London Arena on 0171 538 1212.